Hans Castrop (Christoph Eichhorn) goes to visit a cousin in a Swiss tuberculosis sanatorium, intending to stay for about three weeks, but instead ends up staying for seven years observing the fascinating inhabitants at this supposed haven from the society that has slid downhill to the brink of World War I. The characters he observes range from the politically dueling pair of Lucovico Settembrini (Flavio Bucci), a capitalist "liberal" and Leo Nafta (Charles Aznavour), a Jewish leftist, Claudia Chaochat (Marie-France Pisier), an attractive, passionate Russian woman, and others such as a Dutch businessman with suicidal tendencies, Mynheer Peeperkorn (Rod Steiger). The unfolding exchanges between the protagonists are meant to mirror the larger European world in which they live, and stay close to the Nobel Prize-winning novel (1929) of the same name by Thomas Mann, on which this film is based.
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